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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Facing the Beast Within: The Anxiety of Cameron Poole is a novel in the adventure, mythical fantasy, and social issues subgenres and forms the first installment of The Order of the Stones series. Intended for young readers in the middle grade and lower end of the young adult reading age group, it is penned by Mark Cheverton to give a more accurate representation of the different kinds of anxiety that young people face. Offering a stellar adventure involving mythical creatures, a summer camp, and a supremely dangerous Demon Lord, our hero Cameron must meet all of this and his biggest fear, his anxiety, to save the day.
From the beginning of this fantastic and engaging adventure tale, it’s clear that Mark Cheverton has done extensive research, development, and emotional consideration when creating the story of Cameron Poole. His true heroism comes not from the dangerous creatures and the folklore-laden plot around him, although this is, in itself, excellent, but from the everyday triggers that threaten to bring uncontrollable anxiety into his life. He learns and adapts along the way so that he not only survives his adventures but comes out all the better for them. It struck me how apt and useful this story would be as a classroom read, both to support students who already have similar anxiety issues to Cameron and even more so as a learning tool for those without anxiety conditions to learn empathy for others. Overall, Facing the Beast Within is a fantastic, emotive, and multi-layered adventure that will satisfy young readers everywhere. I can’t wait to see more from this enthralling and socially conscious series.